The sun was shining brightly throughout the Kennebunks on the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend, happy hospitable weather for author Bob Marier’s first official book signing at Antiques on Nine, one of the best shops in Maine. Owner Beverly Bangs, a creative merchandiser and treasured friend, had phoned a few weeks ago to say she wanted to applaud “local talent.” Apparently, Bob qualified in spades.
“The fact that Bob grew up here, was educated here, had his professional life here, and now has written a book about ‘here’ — well, that needs to be celebrated,” Beverly said. Bob was thrilled.
So we hastily organized a book signing. I ordered cheese and fruit platters, sent “BREAKING NEWS” press releases to several area newspapers, and emailed everyone I know within 500 miles. (Okay, 600.) Bob drove to the New Hampshire State Liquor Store and loaded the Honda van with cases of white and red wine. Beverly organized the store, placing fall flowers and empty glasses on two adjoining tables in her magnificent 12,000-foot shop.
We didn’t know if anyone would come. “Do you think John Grisham feels a little nervous before his book signings?” Mr. W. asked. Fat chance.
But come they did! Old friends, new friends and total strangers, including an elderly snow-haired woman dressed impeccably in a Channel-style jacket and smart black slacks. I introduced myself and she said, “I’m Margery Eaton, and I used to own the Glenmore Restaurant in Kennebunk. Bobby’s mother was one of our favorite customers until we closed in the early 1990s.”
Eureka! For years Mr. W. (“Bobby”) and I have stopped at every diner between Kennebunk and Key West, looking for “the same custard pie they served at the Glenmore, my absolute favorite,” Bob had told me. I assured Mrs. Eaton that Bob would happily sign a copy of TIDAL POOLS but, in exchange, would she ever share the coveted custard pie recipe?
She smiled sweetly and said, “Get a piece of paper, I know it by heart. I remember he loved that pie.” (FYI, the recipe starts with a quart of whole milk, six eggs, and goes on from there.) Bob was even more thrilled.
Meanwhile, TIDAL POOLS was flying off the table with Bob Marier’s autograph. What also flew off the table were our car keys, not discovered until several hours later when Beverly and her husband were trying to close the shop. Bob was not thrilled.
“You have the keys, right?” I asked Bob. “No, I gave them to you,” he said.
After 20 minutes frantically looking under every lamp and behind every striped linen pillow, Bev’s husband Jonathan said, “Val, you must have an extra set at home. I’ll drive you there and we’ll pick it up.”
(SIDEBAR: Over the years I had given Jonathan the nickname of “Grumpy.” He had a bit of a growl and his facial expression … well, it was easy to call him Grumpy or variations thereof, although always done with a smile.)
Grumps, with dog Watson panting excitedly in the back seat, drove me to Oak Street, I picked up the extra Honda key, returned to the shop but ….the key battery had apparently died. It wouldn’t unlock the doors or turn on the lights. Bob was even less thrilled.
So now Grumps (with Watson looking like he desperately needed a constitutional on the beach) took Bob and the left-over wine home while Beverly drove me and the left-over cheese tray back to 32 Oak. Sometime after 8 PM, we collapsed into bed, vowing NEVER to call Jonathan “Grumpy” again.
Very early the next morning, our phone rang. “Hi Bob, I think I have your car keys.” A friend had inadvertently put them in her purse, discovered them Saturday night, did a quick calculation, and figured out where she had gotten them. Mystery solved.
As for us, we don’t know how Grisham does it. Exhausting business, this book signing. But we got the pie recipe at the best book signing EVER!